Stories, events and tales about Fijian custom & culture
www.fijitimes.com - Sunday, November 15, 2009
THE President's tour of the Northern Division only a week after his inauguration must be applauded.
For too long the Head of State has been confined to Government House, trundled out only when the need arose.
In Ratu Epeli Nailatikau we have a President who is fit, eager to work and has a natural way with the people.
This newspaper has carried letters from our readers commenting on how Ratu Epeli lines up with regular customers to pay his bills.
He takes lunch with the throngs who eat in the food courts of the capital city.
Early in the mornings or in the evening he can be found pounding the pavement on his daily walk.
In the evenings he will enjoy a drink with friends at the Defence, United or Union clubs in Suva.
On none of these occasions is he accompanied by guards.
A naturally charming person, Ratu Epeli will have a word of greeting or a joke for those he meets.
In the Northern Division this week it was obvious that he had the ability to reach out to people of all races and engage with them on a personal level.
Rice farmers in Dreketi were quick to tell the President of their frustrations with the declining market and ask for help.
Ratu Epeli joked with these farmers, shared their kava and in the manner typical of the leaders of the United States, he pressed the flesh and spoke their language.
In Fijian villages, accorded traditional ceremonies of welcome, the President carried himself with the dignity demanded of the occasion.
His previous service as a diplomat and an army officer means that Ratu Epeli can be friendly but polite and firm.
Those who had the honour to know his late father, Ratu Sir Edward Cakobau, will see in the son some of the traits of this country's first Deputy Prime Minister.
A charming man, natural singer, accomplished dancer, Ratu Sir Edward was the centre of every event - not because he chose to but because he had the ability to draw people of all races to himself.
This is the legacy he has left our current head of state.
So far Ratu Epeli has shown he has the ability to be a man of the people.
If he continues with visits to every part of the country regardless of distance and terrain, the people will believe that he truly cares for the country.
And if he can use his charm to help mend broken bridges, people of all ethnicities will respond.
If Ratu Epeli lives up to his father's legacy, Fiji will be a better place.
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